The Society of Surgical Oncology, inc.
The American Society of Breast Surgeons.
Annals of Surgical Oncology

Log in | Register

Fresh Surgical Specimens Yield Breast Stem/Progenitor Cells and Reveal Their Oncogenic Abnormalities

SuEllen J. Pommier PhD, Ariel Hernandez BS, Esther Han MD, Kristen Massimino MD, Patrick Muller BS, Brian Diggs PhD, Erin Chamberlain BS, Jennifer Murphy MD, Juliana Hansen MD, Arpana Naik MD, John Vetto MD, Rodney F. Pommier MD
Breast Oncology
Volume 19, Issue 2 / February , 2012



The process by which breast cancer stem cells arise is unknown. It may be that the benign stem cells in breast tissue are transformed into malignant stem cells through the acquisition of genetic abnormalities. In this study, we collected and compared benign and malignant breast stem/progenitor cells to determine whether specific genetic abnormalities occur in breast cancer stem/progenitor cells within the human body.


Fresh surgical specimens from benign and malignant breast tissues were obtained directly from the operating room and examined. Cells variably expressing stem cell-associated surface markers CD49f and CD24 were collected by fluorescence-activated cell sorting. The frequencies of these cells in benign and malignant breast tissues were ascertained. Oncogenetic mutation analyses were performed and expression of stem cell-associated genes was measured.


The frequencies of stem/progenitor cells were similar between benign and malignant tissues. Stem cell-associated gene expression also was similar between benign and malignant stem cells. Genetic mutations in the PIK/AKT pathway were found in 73% of the tumors’ stem cells, specifically within two subpopulations. No mutations were found in stem/progenitor cell subpopulations from benign breast tissue.


The results of this study suggest that, following malignant transformation, breast cancer stem/progenitor cells retain their stem cell functions and relative frequencies. In addition, they develop malignant capabilities by acquiring mutations in genes critical for maintaining normal cellular metabolism and proliferation.

Add a comment

0 comment(s)



Follow the journal on Twitter and help to expand the reach of the journal to help surgical oncologists and their patients.



Effective January 2013, a manuscript processing fee of $50 USD is required for each initial new submission of an Annals article, excluding editorials. Submitted new manuscripts will not enter the review process until the submission fee has been paid. There is no processing fee associated with resubmitted manuscripts.



Lymphatic Mapping and Sentinel Node Biopsy in the Colonic Mesentery by Natural Orifice Transluminal Endoscopic Surgery (NOTES) by R. A. Cahill MD, FRCS, S. Perretta MD, J. Leroy MD, B. Dallemagne MD, and J. Marescaux MD, FRCS, FACS.  Annals of Surgical Oncology. Volume 15, Number 10, DOI: 10.1245/s10434-008-9952-8